By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity boys’ baseball team has had an excellent year, dropping only a single conference game against Plainwell. In their most recent contests, the Bulldogs swept Sturgis 9-0 and 13-3 on senior night.
Sturgis got runners on base through the night but struggled to score runs. It’s not a coincidence. Vicksburg is exceptionally strong this year in both pitching and fielding. Head Coach Brian Deal noted his team has a full pitching staff with a rotation. He said this year’s pitching is the deepest it’s ever been for the Bulldogs.
“That gives us a definite advantage as opposed to some of the other teams in our conference,” Deal said. “We can really run a guy out there who can command the game and do a great job for us on the mound.”
Junior Jackson Bowles was the one who pitched the shutout game in the first contest. In the second game, Sturgis got off to a 3-0 lead over the first two innings before the Bulldogs clamped things down for the rest of it. This year’s team simply doesn’t make a lot of errors.
“Really the whole key to our season has been pitching and defense. We’re fielding at .975 right now, which is really good for us, on a high school baseball team to be fielding almost .1000 is great,” Deal added.
In the bottom of the third, Jim Cutshaw walked, and Carter Brown got a base hit, setting the stage for senior Tyler DeVries, who smacked a huge home run over the left field fence to tie the game 3-3. After a quick three outs in the top of the fourth, senior Collin Klinger blasted a huge solo home run over the right field fence to take the lead in the game.
After that, the Trojans stated making mistakes and the Bulldogs began feasting on the errors, taking extra bases several times. Cole Gebben scored on a dropped pop fly to make it 5-3, and Jaxon Wilson scored off another Sturgis error. In the bottom of the fifth, Daxton Rugg made a great slide to make the score 8-3 after the catcher dropped the ball at home after a double by Klinger.
Klinger scored not long after that thanks to a nice double from Gebben. Cutshaw sent him home a few plays later to make it 10-3. Brown then hit a big double to make it 11-3. Drew Habel scored on a pop fly before Sturgis finally got out of the inning.
“I felt like the first three innings we were kind of trying to press a little bit,” Deal said. “We were trying to press and really try to step up and make something happen. We had to take a step back and get back into our game plan, just trying to find a way on base.”
Deal was especially happy for his veterans to have a performance like that on senior night. He noted Klinger and DeVries are both four-year members of the roster who completely missed the 2020 season when it was cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our seniors really kind of propelled us in this game here,” Deal said. “In both games, really.”
By Travis Smola